The summer is here. Sun, beaches and dinners in the sunset. It’s a magical time. Also, for lovers of the transfer market it means players will be linked to clubs all across Europe, some might move, most will not and managers across the continent will be looking to add their success story. The big clubs will spend big on big names, while others will look to find the next Riyad Mahrez or N’Golo Kanté. Here’s our list of ten under the radar players who could prove a masterstroke for clubs looking to add new talent.
Starting off, we’ve tried to identify players who boast a lot of quality, but who might still be a little unknown. Therefore, you won’t see Gareth Bale, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Neymar in this article. Instead, here’s 10 players you might need to catch up on.
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Club: Dinamo Zagreb
Height: 176 cm
Already at the age of just 12, Ante Coric was attracting interest from scouts of the biggest clubs in the world. The young Herzegovinian Croat turned down Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Barcelona to sign for Red Bull Salzburg. After four years in Austria he returned to Croatia and signed for Dinamo Zagreb, making his debut aged just 17. Coric became the youngest goalscorer in Europa League history when he scored against Romanian side Astra aged just 17 years and 157 days. He has continued to impress for Dinamo and has helped the club dominate Croatian football. This season, Coric made 28 appearances for Dinamo, scoring four goals and making five assists on their route to the title. Coric boasts excellent technique, passing ability and has great vision. He has recently been called up to the Croatia squad for this summer’s European championships.
Real Madrid are said to be following his progress, could he be the next Croatian midfield technician to join Real, joining fellow countrymen Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic? Manchester City’s incoming manager Pep Guardiola is also reported to be a big admirer of Coric, so a move to Manchester could be on the cards.
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Club: AS Monaco
Height: 170 cm
Weight: 58 kg
Thomas Lemar is a French attacking midfielder of Guadeloupean descent, known for his dribbling skills and pace. The diminutive left footed attacking midfielder has represented France at every youth level from U17-U21’s he started his career at Caen, making his debut in the opening game of the 2013-14 season, he went on to make 32 appearances before leaving to join Monaco in the summer of 2015. Lemar has impressed this year making 26 appearances scoring 5 goals and 3 assists also featuring for the French club in this year’s Europa League.
Atletico Madrid and Liverpool look set to battle it out for Lemar’s signature this summer. Both clubs have reportedly already made enquiries for him in January but Monaco didn’t want to sell the midfielder in the middle of the season.
Height: 176 cm
Weight: 68 kg
Gabriel Barbosa signed for Santos in 2004 aged 8, making his debut in 2013 at 16 years old. Santos have long been known for producing world class players such as Pele, Neymar and Robinho. Gabriel Barbosa appears to be the next world class player off of Santos’ production line. Known as ‘Gabigol’ due to his goalscoring abilities, Barbosa scored over 600 goals at youth level. The striker is currently uncapped by Brazil but has recently been called up by Brazil manager Dunga for the Copa America Centenario in June.
PSG have been heavily linked with the Brazilian striker recently and he could be brought in this summer to replace the goals of the departing Swede, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Barcelona is another possible destination, the spanish club have a first option to buy the youngster which was negotiated as part of the deal that took Neymar to the Catalan giants.
Club: Atletico Madrid (on loan at Eibar)
Weight: 82 kg
Borja arrived at his hometown club Atletico Madrid aged just four, making his first team debut in 2010. Borja has spent the last few years out on loan with various Spanish Clubs including Real Murcia, Huesca, Deportivo and Zaragoza gaining experience and scoring goals wherever he has been. This year he was once again loaned out, this time to La liga minnows Eibar. After helping Zaragoza to promotion the previous year with 22 goals he has continued his goalscoring form this campaign netting 18 goals for the Basque club with a shot accuracy of 56%
Tottenham have been interested in bringing in the Spanish striker this summer as they look to bring in more firepower up front to take some of the goalscoring weight off of Harry Kane’s shoulders. However Atletico boss Diego Simeone may want to keep hold of the homegrown goalscoring sensation to help solve their own problems in front of goal.
Position: Defensive Midfield
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Bazoer was signed as a youngster by Ajax from Eredivisie rivals PSV despite interest from Manchester City, Making his first team debut at Ajax in October 2014. The young sitting midfielder is widely tipped as a future world star, his technical ability and physical prowess allows him to dominate games from midfield as he has done for Ajax all season making 29 appearances, scoring 5 goals in the process. He has represented Holland at various youth levels and in November 2015 he made his first appearance for the Dutch national side against Wales.
Napoli had a bid accepted for the Dutch midfielder in january believed to be around €50 million, but he opted to stay at Ajax. Potential suitors will have to pay a big sum to prise the midfielder away from Ajax. Money is not an issue at Manchester City, where new boss Pep Guardiola wants to add the Ajax star to his new look City side, so don’t be surprised to see him lining up in a City shirt next year, three years after turning down the Manchester club in favour of Ajax.
Position: Attacking midfield
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 87 kg
When Paulo Dybala left Sicily and Palermo last summer for big money following his move to Juventus, most Palermo-fans were worried his partner in attack would leave too. Fortunately for Palermo, Franco Vazquez stayed at the club because without him they wouldn’t be a Serie A team next season. Just like Dybala, Vazquez is a highly creative, beautifully balanced left-footed attacker. After struggling to find his place at the club, the trequartista finally hit his stride last season as he and Dybala shone brightly throughout a successful season. This term, the club has struggled but Vazquez influence hasn’t diminished. He scored eight goals, made seven assists and was the top dribbler in Serie A, completing 3.5 take-ons a game. He contributes defensively too, as his 2.3 tackles per game shows. Vazquez is a throwback to the old trequartista with a modern adaptation, making him a wonderful player to watch.
After seeing Palermo struggle this season, Vazquez is most likely on the move. Preferably he’d go to a team determined to use him as a no 10, where he definitely does his best work. Both giants in Milano, Inter and AC Milan, should be on the search for a trequartista this summer, and Vazquez would be a perfect fit.
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 72 kg
Last summer, Matteo Darmian’s excellent performances at Torino saw him earn himself a move to Manchester United. This season, it seems like his former teammate Bruno Peres is on the wish-lists of many managers on the continent. In Torino’s 3-5-2, Peres has been used as a wing-back on either side. He provides an attacking threat with his explosive pace, dribbling and crossing as well as defensive energy and work rate. Peres chipped in with three goals and four assists as well as 3.1 dribbles per game in an impressive individual campaign. Capable of playing as a full-back, wing-back and winger, Peres could prove a gem for most top clubs.
Juventus will need to replace Stephan Lichtsteiner one day, and that day might come this summer. With Peres already in town, he wouldn’t need any time to adapt to the city. Napoli have also been mentioned, although they already have two excellent full-backs in Elseid Hysaj and Faouzi Ghoulam. Barcelona could be interested in a Dani Alves replacement, but a move to England to join Antonio Conte at Chelsea would probably be the most exciting.
Height: 170 cm
Weight: 67 kg
After starring for Portugal at last summer U21 Euro, Raphael Guerreiro is now hoping to star for his country’s main national team at this summer’s Euro. The young left-back was included in coach Fernando Santos’ squad for the tournament. He will compete with Benfica’s Eliseu to start at the left of Portugal’s back four. The call-up comes as a result of two impressive seasons in Ligue 1 with Lorient and last summer’s U21 Euro where Guerreiro where on of the silver medalists best performers. An energetic, technical and attacking left-back, Guerreiro has his strengths going forward. Defensively there’s still work to be done, but that’s always easier to add than attacking qualities. At only 22, Guerreiro is likely to have many suitors, especially if he gets the chance to impress in France.
Most managers nowadays like attacking full-backs, and Guerreiro fits that mould. As he’s similar in style to Jordi Alba, the Barcelona link has been obvious, but surely a move to Dortmund to replace compete with Marcel Schmelzer would be the better choice.
Position: Central midfield
Club: AS Roma (on loan at Empoli)
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Leandro Paredes joined Roma as an attacking midfielder, a true number 10, but this season’s loan move to Empoli has highlighted his complete repertoire. Placed at the base of Empoli’s highly technical midfield diamond, Paredes has been consistently excellent at distributing possession and breaking lines with his passing. Off the ball he’s impressed too, with positional intelligence and strong tackling. Paredes has been the key man for Marco Giampaolo’s highly entertaining and ever short-passing Empoli side all season, and at only 21 years of age, he will also only get better as he continues to play his game, wherever that might be.
Roma might want to keep hold of the midfielder, especially if Radja Nainggolan departs. Otherwise, all clubs in search for a defensive midfielder as adept with the ball as without it should get in touch with Roma, because Paredes is a gem for whoever picks him up. Former Empoli manager Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli, for example, might need to replace their excellent regista Jorginho if he leaves, or if they just want a bigger squad to handle the demands of the Champions League.
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 72 kg
With all of England discussing Jamie Vardy, his rise through the league system and subsequent top-flight success, culminating with Leicester City’s first Premier League title, large parts of Italy are now wondering whether they are about to witness something similar. 26-year-old Gianluca Lapadula has been a largely anonymous lower league striker until a few years ago when he started hitting the back of the net at a very high rate. After joining Pescara last summer, Lapadula has scored an astonishing 27 goals in Serie B. Almost all the Serie A clubs are now following the striker closely, and he will most likely leave the Adriatic coast club for a bigger club and a higher level. Can he continue like Vardy? Obviously it remains to be seen, but there are similarities between the two marksmen. Lapadula is also a terrific worker, always pressing from the front and has similar predatory instincts like Vardy in front of goal. He also boasts excellent technique, never panics in finishing situations and can also score acrobatic goals out of nothing. A star in the making, Lapadula will be coming to a top flight ground near you soon.
All of Italy are seemingly interested in securing the services of the striker, from Juventus to Atalanta. His style would see him fit most teams playing style, both domestically and abroad. Claudio Ranieri has been linked with bringing him to Leicester, which would see two fairytale strikers linking up in the Champions League next season.
It remains to be seen whether all of these players, or even three, changes clubs this summer. However, if they don’t, make sure you keep track of their progress in 2016/17.